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3rd Generation 4Runner:  Still the best!

Am I right?  the 3rd generation T4R’s are like Glock’s with wheels.  There are tons of parts to customize the holy hell out of your 4Runner.  This site is mainly set up as a reference to those seeking to do some custom stuff to their 4Runners without making a huge investment in stuff to accomplish it.

I am sure somewhere I will irritate some purist out there with my “too practical” way of doing things, so I will state this caveat here and now:  This is a journey and kind of a diary of what I did to my 4Runner to make it look like what I had envisioned in my head.  Having very limited funds, I had to, at times, get extremely creative. 

If you wish to take my advice, I assure you that everything I do here I relatively easy to do.  i only needed assistance on a couple small projects just because I don’t know anything about wiring.  That having been said, I took a leap of faith and turned my 4Runner into one badass vehicle that suits my needs, is practical and rides like the day it was built back in 2000.

Speaking of my 4Runner.  I own a 2000 Toyota 4Runner Limited.  I like the Limited’s because of the upgraded features both inside and out.  The Limited’s came with a nice sunroof, leather interior and most of all that wood grain accents throughout the vehicle.  The outer features that I personally like (and shunned by the purists) are the wheel flares and running boards.

Maybe a little history is needed.  I had been a Chevy guy most of my life.  I owned everything from Camaro’s to Monte Carlo’s to Blazers.  I liked them, but it always ended the same.  Constantly having to repair something which ended up being a pain in my ass more times than not.  They all died in some way shape or manner.

I discovered the 4Runner.  It kinda fell on me one night. My 2002 Blazer was in for yet another expensive repair after I had just dropped $750 on all terrain tires and $900 on a distributor and head gasket replacement.  The P.O.S. wouldn’t start.  Took it to a garage.  They spent 6 hours and couldn’t figure it out.  I am sitting in the waiting room for my truck and start looking at cars.  The 4Runner catches my attention.  I started reading about them, how much people like them and how reliable they are.

I’m sold.

Went back to my house, grabbed the title to the Blazer, went back up to the shop and held it up and said, “Anyone want to buy this Blazer?  First $1100.00 shows up, gets the car.”  I’ll be damned if this guy didn’t come up to me and offer to buy it.  I said show me the money.  He did.  I sold it and went straight to a dealership a few miles away and with the help of additional funds and some coercing with the sales guy, bought my first 1999 4Runner Limited!

I thought I was on top of the world.  Yeah it needed a little work, but the color was right (silver) and I had LEATHER!!!!!

I must apologize at this point because apparently I never took any pics of that car, or if I did, I can’t find them…continuing…

Had it for about a year. April 22, 2016, I am coming home from an interview.  It’s a Friday morning.  I am one block from home.  I had the right of way and an SUV turned left in front of me, side swiping the rear of my vehicle and spinning me into a dimension of pissed off I have never been in my life!  The truck flips over and slides up on the curb stopping just a foot or two from a street light pole.  Crap is flying around the inside of my car and all I can think of is I hope the sub woofers don’t try to kill my ass.

The pictures speak for themselves.  Car was toast.  Luckily I wasn’t killed, but I did manage to screw up my back quite a bit, so that was five months of therapy and injections in my back.  Oh, and lucky me, the insurance company gave me a Chevy car to drive while they handled my settlement.  Like driving a coffin.  I was surprised the SOB didn’t break down.

So while I am waiting for the insurance company to take its sweet f**king time with my claim, I figured I would search for the next 4Runner.  My thinking here is if I can flip a truck and live…why test fate…buy another one.  Apparently they’re safe!

I found quite a few of them in my local classifieds.  Unfortunately due to the nature of insurance claims, by the time I got my claim check, 90% of the T4R’s I had chosen as my next vehicle sold FAST! Keep in mind this little thought if you own one of these 3rd Gen’s:  they are some of THE MOST SOUGHT AFTER 4Runners on the market for reasons you will discover reading this blog over time.

I ended up finding one a couple days after my check was cashed and I had money in hand.  Some guy was selling a white 2000 4Runner Limited up the road.  The one’s I looked at through my local used car dealerships were for lack of a better word, all shit!  I mean that!  Absolute shit.  Either they were missing parts and common items and the price was way too high, or someone had tampered with the mileage and therefore you couldn’t trust the odometer.

ANYWAY, back to this guy.  I agreed to meet him and took a look at the car.  It was OK.  It had a broken antenna, tires that were way too small (probably because the SOB was trying to save a buck, so the truck tires were better suited for a Prius!!!).  It had a couple dings and rock chips in the paint and a crack in the windshield. The interior had wear and tear.  The driver seat looked like the Tasmanian devil got to it before me, but beggars can’t be choosers and I needed a truck pretty quick.

Talked the guy down on price based on repairs I knew I was going to have to make since “Spanky” couldn’t maintain a truck if his life depended on it.  Took $500 off the price and rolled out with my new 2000 T4R for $3500.00!!

The pics above might have been taken after I replaced the windshield and tinted the truck.

So day one.  Driving it home, I stopped off at Autozone and the first investment was a new steering wheel cover (I am particular on what I like) and a set of NEW windshield wipers because whatever was on the truck when I got it could cut glass…oh wait…it had already done that…thanks again Spanky!

I get home and immediately gave the car a once over and thought of every item that HAD to be replaced ASAP for it to run right and at least look somewhat like I wanted it to look.  At the moment with those tiny tires, I thought I was in a ghetto low rider (still can’t get over why they chose those tires…must have been $$$)

The short list was tires, windshield, antenna, and window tint.  I like my trucks to have limo tint and since I live in Texas, where true freedom lives, I could do that no problem.  Bought the best you can get which deflects 90% of the Sun’s heat (cause in Texas it’s freakin’ HOT!!!)  At least I was smart enough to buy a white vehicle!  So $350 for tint.  DONE!

Called my local discount windshield guys and bam, $150 out the door had a new windshield within an hour or so.  Done!

Went back to Autozone, found a whip antenna, bought it, installed it easy peasy, $13.00, DONE! (little did i know, but that antenna sparked a creative bone in me…)

Shopped around for tires.  Apparently I missed the memo where the Chinese now make all of our tires and they cost as much as tires for a Porsche cost in the early 90’s!  W-T-F?????  I ended up with some pretty badass tires in the end.  Maybe not to the off roaders and the purists, but these were like $120 each, all terrain, aggressive tread…and…most importantly…a 70,000 mile warranty. For a little over 700.00 and change I had badass tires great for every day use, my lowrider truck now looked like a 4Runner should and I have a warranty covering every little thing imaginable for the future.

From Zero to Kickass with No Money…

Back to my divine intervention from the antenna purchase. It dawned on me that I had an opportunity to make this thing my own.  The chances i will ever sell it are ZERO and I will probably drive it until the wheels come off…or some woman takes me out in another intersection again!

Being a big Star Wars fan, and a Punisher fan, and well i love anything tactical it dawned on me that I could do whatever the hell I wanted with this truck and I was going to step outside my comfort zone and make it so.

The next part seems to baffle or piss off a few people, so be warned.  Either way, it’s my truck, my money and in the end I don’t really care about your opinion on the matter.

Since the white paint on the truck was in pretty good condition (just needed a thorough wash and wax.  More on that later) I took a long hard look at the truck.  Then I thought, Stormtrooper truck, no…Punisher Zombie Truck…screw it, why not have it all.  So I have a Zombie Stormtrooper Punisher Tactical truck…woo hoo. After looking at the cost for a professional paint job and throwing up a little in my mouth, a friend of mine suggested something I would have NEVER in a million year thought of…rubberized spray on truck bed liner!  GENIUS.  Easy to clean, easy to repair ($6 a can) and it gives the truck this matte tactical look.  It easily fills in scratches and dings.  This was the answer.  Except that I have never painted a truck, car or anything except a wall in the house in my life.

My buddy is like, no problem.  Bring it over and I’ll show you how to do it. Um…yes please!  Turns out that it is not hard to do at all and with a little prep of the surface and a shitload of painters tape (that stuff gets expensive fast), we sanded and painted the wheels first.  Boom.  Truck looks better already.  Next we did the front center bumper.  Still looks good.  All the scratches were now gone and hidden by the texture of the paint.  I like this.

I tested out the durability of this paint over a few weeks and found it met my expectations.

Going Rogue

I decided to take a chance and finish off all the parts we couldn’t get to that day a few weeks back due to time constraints and weather (rained all day and we were locked in a garage).  I went out and pillaged my local free Hispanic newspaper stand to use as masking paper for the parts of the truck I didn’t want paint all over.  Made another trip to Home Depot and invested (I swear I am a poster child for the company) in a ton of blue painters tape in various widths.

I got back to my house, waited for a good day when the sun was blistering hot.  I taped and papered every inch of the car not receiving paint and went to town on the beast!  The truck was originally white with silver highlights and chrome.  On this day, everything on that car that was silver was about to be black!  After three hours of sanding cleaning, taping and painting, I had a whole new truck!  Total cost to paint the truck and wheels just under $100 and a few hours time.  Take that Maaco!

 So with that little back history here it is with the new improved PROPER tires.  MAJOR difference.

With this bit of history, I now direct you to my blog where I will document and provide more in-depth detail on the upgrades I made to the vehicle to the present day.  Enjoy.